The Brooklyn Nets acquire NBA superstar James Harden in a blockbuster deal involving four teams. The Nets, who are seventh in the East with a .500 record of 6-6, will send out three first round picks, four pick swaps, and both Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert to make the deal work.
There is no doubt that the Nets have acquired the best player in this trade and one of the best in the league. Harden is a three time NBA scoring champion and the 2017-18 NBA MVP.
His addition to a Nets team that signed both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant a year ago makes them a favourite based off talent alone. Harden’s been disgruntled with Houston’s management since the season started and in a post-game press conference stated that the team “just isn’t good enough”.
Harden has also seen a decline in play this year scoring less than 25 points in 4 straight games, for the first time since 2012, and has been spotted breaking COVID protocol at strip clubs.
He now joins a Nets team that’s also had issues with their star player, Kyrie Irving, who has missed several games due to “personal reasons”. Footage of Irving partying in New Jersey have surfaced, and the NBA will investigate the situation further.
If Irving returns it will be interesting to see how the Nets put it all together. There’s only one basketball in play at a time, and all three Nets superstars are ball dominant players. In order for this to work someone will need to sacrifice for the team and based off talent, first guess would point to Irving.
However, Irving’s motivation for leaving leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers four years ago was in wanting to be the guy and this move now undermines that.
It should be noted that Harden does have experience in a smaller role during his Oklahoma City Thunder days, but that was before he became a superstar in the league, so while possible, there is still uncertainty in who will take on less.
Another concern with this move is the Nets defence. While the sample size is small, in 12 games the Nets rank 22nd in points allowed, one spot lower than the Houston Rockets; and 12th in defensive rating. With the loss of a key defender in Jarrett Allen, and the acquisition of a notoriously poor defender in Harden, it’s hard to see those stats improving.
Defence wins championships and while the last team who won the NBA finals with a defensive rating outside of the top 10 was the Kevin Durant-led Golden State Warriors, the past two champions ranked in the top 5, and one of those teams still has Lebron James and Anthony Davis.
Outside of their on-court talent, will this newly formed Big three with all of their off-court drama in the past few years be able to come together and make it work?
With the Nets giving up their foreseeable future, they’ve shown they’re willing to risk it all for a Championship, and they’ll have to do it in a two year window before Irving and Durant’s options come into play.
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